Kate Huffman Uses Art to Change Lives
Kate Huffman knew at the ripe-old age of four that she wanted to be an actress, but by the age of 10, there was a plot twist written into her script. The result could have changed the trajectory of her life, until one day she realized she had the power to pick up her pen and write a new script.
Kate’s introduction to acting came by way of her mom’s first musical. As a director, she needed a young child to open the show – a bit part that helped Kate find her passion, earn an award and start working on her craft early.
By the time she was just ten years old, Kate was shamed and bullied for being a little overweight. The self-loathing, desperation to lose weight and desire to find acceptance with her peers would eventually consume an otherwise healthy young girl. The pain of her peers’ rejection caused her to become overly focused on losing weight, and the results shocked her.
“It was like a Hollywood movie – fat kid, no friends, skinny kid, lots of friends,” Kate says.
The sudden popularity sent a clear message that her self worth was tied inextricably to her weight. She developed an eating disorder that would plague her for nearly two decades while she pursued her dream of becoming an actress.
After graduating from Cathedral High School in Indianapolis, Kate attended the University of Miami. She has worked in film, television and theatre, earning many prestigious awards in the process. Kate got her first big break doing a television episode of “Untold Stories in the E.R.”. She also appeared on a show called “$#*! My Dad Says” starring William Shatner, whom she credits with helping to earn her acting union card and teaching her valuable lessons. She also earned roles in “Fresh Off the Boat” and “Castle” in 2015.
On the outside Kate appeared to be living her dream, but inside her eating disorder – which she nicknamed Eadi – consumed her on every level. In addition, there was chronic pain she attributed to years of excessive exercise and poor eating that impacted her career, friendships and love life. She began to question her life decisions, including her acting career.
Kate then realized she had to share her story, in the form of a one-woman play.
“I always came back to the idea that you can be of service through art,” she says.
By January of 2016 Kate had devoted two years toward writing her story, and decided her birthday in April that year would be her deadline to finish. Her reward was a solo summer trip to Ireland, which she says was incredible.
“I have never experienced the feeling of belonging like I did from the minute I arrived in Ireland,” she says. “I felt like I was home, and I even thought about chucking my life in L.A. to find a way to live there permanently.”
The process of sharing her one-woman play with her friends in Los Angeles led to a second performance, with additional friends and some strangers present. A woman in the audience had a friend who owned a local theater outside of the city, and soon Kate was performing the first stage production of her play, “I’m Too Fat For This Show”.
The play takes a comedic, positive approach to talking about mental health. Kate has performed it coast to coast in the U.S. and even in her beloved Ireland, winning several awards in the process.
Kate discovered that bringing her private pain onto the stage was liberating. While initially concerned about how the show would be perceived, Kate saw how much it affected people positively, and allowed them to tell their own stories.
Kate’s mission is to change the way mental health is perceived at any age.
“My goal is to stop little kids from being taught such damaging messages at such a young age, and change the stigma so they can get help before it goes too far,” she says. “It is important to use comedy to help them let their guard down, and expose them to just how tricky this disease can be when no one else is around. In my play, I don’t beat the eating disorder because that was never the victory. The victory is talking about it.”
For more info on Kate Huffman including her theatrical, television and web series projects, visit katehuffman.com.